Mortgage definition could restrict options

By Marcie Geffner - Bankrate

Government regulators are about to define a "qualified residential mortgage," and their definition could determine the types of loans homebuyers and homeowners will -- and won't -- be able to get.

Some experts see no upside for borrowers. Others hope that the definition will help borrowers get home loans that are less likely to result in hardship or default.

"The whole purpose" of the new definition, says Ellen Harnick, senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending, speaking from the Washington, D.C., office, "is to encourage responsible loans and discourage the types of loan we've seen blow up."

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Get a property tax do-over

By Marcie Geffner -

Property tax appeals are especially popular among homeowner today due to sharp declines in house values throughout the U.S. The reality is that not all tax assessors have kept up with these trends, which means some homes may be over-valued and thus over-taxed.

Most, though not all, U.S. states tax residential property, according to John Brusniak, president of the National Association of Property Tax Attorneys in Dallas. Other jurisdictions that also may tax real property include counties, cities, towns, school districts, utility districts, and the like. This myriad of taxing authorities means your first step must be to find out who's in charge of your property's valuation. Typically, this information is printed on your tax bill.

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